From ABC Rural:
Federal Government scraps food grants programABC Rural Kim Honan Updated Fri 21 Feb 2014, 3:53 PM AEDT Kim Honan
The Federal Government has scrapped the $1.5 million Community Food Grants program.
The funding was announced last May by the former Labor government as a key initiative of the National Food Plan.
It would have seen money invested in projects such as farmers markets, food co-operatives and hubs, community gardens, and city farms across the country.
But applicants have now been advised by letter that the program has been reviewed and a decision made that it won't be continued due to the 'tight fiscal environment'.
Donna Carrier, from Wingham in northern NSW, had applied for $5,000 to develop an interactive website and app to help consumers and restaurants connect with producers.
"I'm pretty disappointed because it wasn't a lot of money that we'd asked for, and we had funding that we were going to match," she said.
"There were actually people on our committee that had their own hard cash that they were going to put towards helping this project, because it was something that we could do to develop food tourism in the area."
The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance is also disappointed.
The alliance's national co-ordinator, Nick Rose, says it was the first time that work by the community food sector had been recognised at a federal level.
"And really the justification that it's in any way going to make any difference to the total government Budget bottom line is quite frankly ludicrous. We're only talking about $1.5 million," he said.
"Really, it's quite a petty and almost spiteful slap in the face to people who have a different vision, different set of values about what food and farming can mean for this country."
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture says the Australian Government remains strongly committed to a vibrant, innovative and competitive agriculture sector.
"This is why the government is developing a White Paper Agricultural Competitiveness, which will drive long-term agricultural policies and ensure Australia's agriculture sector remains a significant contributor to the national economy and local communities.
"The White Paper will take into account the analysis done for the National Food Plan, in the context of the government's agriculture and food related policies.
"A priority of the White Paper will be to generate jobs, boost farm gate returns, investment and economic growth in the agriculture sector."
There were 364 applications for the Community Food Grants program.